Accessibility Resource Guide for Instructors
As an instructor or faculty member at the University of Wisconsin Parkside, you play an important role in ensuring access for students with disabilities. Students with disabilities are encouraged to work with their instructors to obtain reasonable accommodations that provide equal access and equal challenge in the classroom. This information is intended to assist you in developing a greater understanding on how to assure equal access.
We want to provide information about specific accommodations and ways to serve those students with approved
Note-taking assistance can come in a variety of forms on campus. Most often students will be using the Glean App which is located on their phone. With Glean, students can record lectures in full, listen back at their own pace and annotate with different note types to create a complete learning resource - tailored for them.
Other note taking assistance that might be helpful is for the instructor to provide PowerPoint slides in advance for a student to assist in note taking or for the student to record lecture (see below).
Technology has also made it possible for some students to use electronic devices to assist with note taking. Devices you may see utilized in class may include SmartPens, iPads, notebook computers, or similar electronic devices. Any concerns with use of electronic devices in the classroom by a student with a disability should be referred to Student Accessibility Services.
Some students may be allowed to record lectures and class discussions. Students with this accommodation are informed that they may not share recordings with other students or other entities on or off campus and those recordings should be destroyed when they are no longer needed or at the end of the semester.
This accommodation is provided for several different reasons including, but not limited to, visual impairment, hearing impairments, attention difficulties, or psychiatric concerns. Usually, students with ADHD or similar attention difficulties might request front row seating to minimize distractions while students with other health conditions may request back-row seating or seating near a door to minimize disruption in the even they need to leave class unexpectedly. Additional seating accommodations may be necessary for a sign language interpreter or other instructional aid for a student.
Some students may need specific furniture, such as a chair, a table (instead of an attached chair and desk), or an adjustable height desk to allow for standing and sitting. These arrangements are coordinated between Student Accessibility Services and Facility Services.
Some students have health impairments that could interfere with class attendance. Faculty should discuss expectations for class attendance and participation with the student and whether participation, or lack of participation, could affect the final grade. Opportunities to make up missed work due to a disability related absence should be provided. While Student Accessibility Services will not grant a blanket exemption from having to attend class, faculty should exercise extreme care in determining whether to lower a student’s grade because of attendance if all other course objectives can be met successfully. The student is expected to follow up with the instructor after missing class. If attendance is a concern, please consult with Accessibility Services. Students might have an accommodation that allows them to leave to leave during class to attend to medical concerns. Generally, the student will return during that same class period.
Some students may require additional assistance to complete laboratory classes such as biology, chemistry, or geology. The assistant should not do the work for the student, but instead follow the student’s instructions to obtain the same lab results or experience as other students.
Testing accommodations are one of the most utilized accommodations on our campus and can take many forms like extended time, a distraction-reduced environment, or recording answers directly on the test instead of a scantron. Tests should have a cover sheet and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
A student may be granted extended time on an exam to account for difficulties related to a learning disability, a visual impairment, or a health condition that affects stamina or writing ability.
DISTRACTION REDUCED ENVIRONMENT
Most students who need distraction reduced environments will utilize the SAS Testing Area located in the Library on the 3rd floor. Alternatively, the instructor and student may choose to have an exam in the instructor’s office or a quiet meeting room available to the instructor. The aim is not to provide a completely quiet environment but rather a setting that minimizes distractions from people shuffling papers, moving about in the room, or noise from hallways.
In rare cases, exams may need to be modified to enable a student to effectively demonstrate their mastery of course content. This might include any of the following: oral exam, computer assistance (instead of handwritten), and alternative format.
Adaptive technology is the use of technology resources to aid in access to print or other course materials. Adaptive technology may include software solutions, hardware solutions or a combination.
ASSISTED LISTENING DEVICES
Instructors may be asked to wear an FM transmitter and lapel microphone connected to a receiver and ear buds worn by a student who is hard of hearing. This device is available to be borrowed by the student from Accessibility Services.
Some students may use adaptive software and hardware to access computer workstations or access computer-based content. Technology Services staff will assist in setting up necessary equipment or software in classrooms as necessary.
OTHER AT DEVICES
Braille note taker: This device resembles a laptop computer but converts written notes to Braille or an audio format instead of standard text.
ELECTRONIC COURSE MATERIALS (FORMATTING NEEDS)
Course materials, including E-Reserves or documents distributed through D2L should be in an accessible format for use by students with learning disabilities or visual impairments. The best format is in RTF or Word document format, but PDFs can also be made accessible by scanning or saving them as a text document rather than an image.
Course materials may sometimes need to be enlarged for students with visual impairments. In most cases, increasing the font size to 24-28 point font and using a standard type font such as Arial or Times New Roman will suffice. Other handouts such as charts, pictures, and similar materials may also need to be enlarged. In most cases, Creative Services can assist in producing these materials for you.
SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETING & CAPTIONING
Some students may be accompanied to classrooms and related activities by a sign language interpreter or a captionist. The student and captionist may need to sit in a particular location to have access to a power supply. When addressing a student who uses a sign language interpreter or captionist, always look at and talk directly to the student.
MOVIES AND VIDEOS
Whether used in class or online, all videos should be closed captioned for the hearing impaired. When selecting new videos for classes, please purchase editions with closed captioning already installed and functioning. Technology Services can assist faculty and instructors with captioning.
Many videos already have captions or subtitles:
- DVD: Click the CC button on your remote. If you do not have that button, using your remote, click the Menu or Setup option. Look for Language or Subtitles. Click that option and select CC.
- VHS: Click the CC button on your remote. If you do not have that button, using your remote, click the Menu or Setup option. Look for Picture or Language or Screen. Click that option and select CC.
If you cannot find the captioning on your video and need it for a student with a disability in your class, there is a captioning request form on the Technology Services UW Parkside Knowledgebase Search Results. Please be aware that it can take several days to add captioning to videos (depending on the length).
Here are a few explanations that might be helpful as you explore captioning:
Closed Captioning: Captions show words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning (e.g., door shutting, item falling). Closed captions can be turned off and on.
Open Captioning: Captions show words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning (e.g., door shutting, item falling). Open captions are always visible and cannot be turned off.
Subtitles: These generally show only the words spoken by characters, intended for people who are hearing.
Transcripts: This is a typed version of words spoken by characters as well as other sounds that have meaning. Where captions are synchronized (appearing when the character speaks), transcripts are not. Sometimes transcripts online will follow along with the movie by highlighting the corresponding line of text.
UNDERSTANDING STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Students with ADHD often have difficulty sustaining attention and maintaining focus while attending to lectures or reading. This can negatively impact their academic performance, beyond what is typically observed in individuals at a comparable level of development. They may also struggle with executive functions such as concentration, following directions, time management, setting priorities, and organizing their academic life.
These students may benefit from extended time testing in a distraction-reduced environment.
Autism Spectrum Disorders
Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder that is characterized by deficits in social skills, communication, and unusual repetitive behaviors. It is sometimes referred to as "high-functioning autism." The core feature appears to be the individual's inability to understand the thoughts, feelings and motivations of other people and to use this understanding to regulate his or her own behaviors.
The following characteristics are typical in an individual with Asperger Syndrome. Due to the diversity and complexity of this disability, you may not see all of these characteristics in a given student. It is important to understand these characteristics, because they can result in behaviors that are easy to misinterpret. Often behaviors that seem odd or unusual or even rude are in fact unintentional symptoms of AS.
- Frequent errors in interpreting others' body language, intentions or facial expressions
- Difficulty understanding the motives and perceptions of others
- Problems asking for help
- Motor clumsiness, unusual body movements and/or repetitive behavior
- Difficulty with the big picture, perseverate on the details (can't see the forest for the trees)
- Difficulties with transitions and changes in schedule
- Wants things "just so"
- Problems with organization (including initiating, planning, carrying out, and finishing tasks)
- Deficits in abstract thinking (concrete, focuses on irrelevant details, difficulty generalizing)
- Unusual sensitivity to touch, sounds, and visual details, may experience sensory overload
Communication and Social Skills
- Difficulty in initiating and sustaining connected relationships
- Poor or unusual eye contact
- Problems understanding social rules (such as personal space)
- Impairment of two-way interaction (may seem to talk "at you" rather than "with you")
- Conversation and questions may be tangential or repetitive
- Restricted interests that may be unusual and sometimes become a rigid topic for social conversation
- Unusual speech intonation, volume, rhythm, and/or rate
- Literal understanding of language (difficulty interpreting words with double meaning, confused by metaphors and sarcasm)
- Don't use absolute words such as "always" or "never" unless that is exactly what you mean
- Supplement oral with written instructions when revising assignments, dates, etc.
- Use clear directives and establish rules if…
- A student invades your space or imposes on your time
- The student's classroom comments or conversational volume become inappropriate
- Information in papers may be redundant, returning to the same topic focus repeatedly
- Student may be able to state facts and details, but be greatly challenged by papers requiring
- Taking another's point of view
- Synthesizing information to arrive at a larger concept
- Comparing and contrasting to arrive at the "big picture"
- Using analogies, similes, or metaphors
- Use clear and detailed directives when referring to revisions that need to be made
- Listing or numbering changes on the paper will provide guidelines for students when working
- If modeling writing rules, write them on a separate sheet for future reference
- Keep directions simple and declarative
- Ask students to repeat directions in their own words to check comprehension
Students may have sophisticated and impressive vocabulary and excellent rote memory but may have difficulty with high-level thinking and comprehension skills. They can give the impression that they understand, when in reality they may be repeating what they have heard or read. Many individuals with Asperger Syndrome are visual learners. Pictures and graphs may be helpful to them.
- Clearly define course requirements, the dates of exams and when assignments are due. Provide advance notice of any changes.
- Teach to generalize and to consolidate information.
- Go for gist, meaning, and patterns. Don't get bogged down in details.
- Use scripts and teach strategies selectively.
- Make sure all expectations are direct and explicit. Don't require students to "read between the lines" to glean your intentions. Don't expect the student to automatically generalize instructions. Provide direct feedback to the student when you observe areas of academic difficulty.
- Encourage use of resources designed to help students with study skills, particularly organizational skills.
- Avoid idioms, double meaning, and sarcasm, unless you plan to explain your usage.
- If the student has poor handwriting, allow use of a computer if easier for the student.
- Use the student's preoccupying interest to help focus/motivate the student. Suggest ways to integrate this interest into the course, such as related paper topics.
- Make sure the setting for tests takes into consideration any sensitivity to sound, light, touch, etc.
"Faculty Guide for Working with Students with Asperger Syndrome", an appendix in Students with Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for College Personnel, by Lorraine E. Wolf, Jane Thierfeld Brown, and G. Ruth Kukiela Bork]:
Our student athletes sometimes suffer concussions and are referred to Accessibility Services by their athletic trainer when the effects of the injury are prolonged and may potentially impact their academic performance. Depending upon the severity of symptoms, students may require accommodations in the form of extended deadlines, exam accommodations, and excused absences.
Students may opt to ask Accessibility Services to coordinate with their instructors on plans to resume academic studies.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Students with a range of hearing loss (from completely Deaf to hard of hearing) may participate in your class either using ASL interpreters, FM Systems, CART (Communications Access Real-time Translation), or a combination of these services depending upon the nature of your course.
These students may require a front row seat. If your student has a sign language interpreter, remember to direct any conversation you have to the student. Note-taking support is a common accommodation in conjunction with sign language interpreters.
Characteristics of a learning disability include a marked discrepancy between intellectual capacity and achievement that is attributed to neurological difficulties in perceiving and/or processing auditory, visual, and/or special information. It is important to note that a learning disability is not indicative of an intellectual deficiency. Disorders such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia are included in this disability category.
Students with learning disabilities benefit from a number of accommodations, strategies, and assistive technology. Typical accommodations include use of a computer with spell check, calculator, extended time testing, permission to audio record lectures, and assistive technology devices and software programs such as Kurzweil 3000/Firefly.
Students with mobility impairments require the instructor to be mindful of classroom accessibility and equal opportunities to participate. Depending upon the nature of the physical disability, students may need the following accommodations:
- Extended exam time
- Accessible table/seating
- Assistive technology/software
- A student assistant for participation in laboratory sessions
Students who use wheelchairs or crutches may fatigue easily and find it difficult to arrive to class within time constraints imposed by class schedules. Occasional lateness may be unavoidable. Flexibility in attendance policies may be necessary due to transportation problems, inclement weather, or elevator or wheelchair breakdown.
Medical Disabilities or Chronic Health Impairments
Students with medical disabilities, often hidden, include conditions such as:
Arthritis, Asthma, Cancer, Diabetes, Gastrointestinal disorders, orthopedic limitations, Heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and Seizure disorders.
These students may experience impairments on an episodic basis or experience limited energy. Appropriate accommodations may include extended exam time, assignment and/or attendance flexibility.
Students diagnosed with anxiety and depressive disorders may require sensitivity due to the episodic nature of their impairments. Depression may be wrongly attributed to inattention, irritability, and apathy. Anxiety may impede concentration and be characterized by withdrawal, fear, and panic.
Academic accommodations are determined on an individualized basis.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and/or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Students returning to college after serving in the military may require disability accommodations due to traumatic brain injury and/or post-traumatic stress disorder. These students may exhibit qualities of any combination of the above disabilities.
Accommodations may include extended time testing and breaks without time penalty.
Depending upon the severity of the visual impairment, students may need one or more of the following accommodations:
- Specialized equipment
- Student assistants in laboratory settings
- Texts in alternate formats for use with screen reading software
- Class materials in large print
- Front row seating
Accessibility Services may also offer extended time testing in an alternate location to allow for the use of adaptive equipment for exams. Instructors may consider alternate assessment methods as well, such as oral exams.